“I planned accordingly.. based on the rules of the lottery”, says Hannah Fisher (ME ‘24, Unaffiliated) “If they had stuck with the original rules, I would have gotten housing in Bechtel. But now I don’t have on-campus housing.” Fisher is one of as many as 20 students who are living off-campus involuntarily, due to the over-admission of the class of 2027.
On Tuesday, May 2nd, Joe Bennethum sent out an email to undergraduates telling them that the housing office was “notified by Admissions about the larger incoming class” and due to this, they must “adjust the number of available suites in Bechtel”.
The email was sent nearly a week after the 3rd round lottery for Bechtel picks (Thursday, May 4), and suites had already been basically finalized. Three bechtel suites were cut to make room for a larger than expected yield rate. These unlucky students were entered into the Marks/Braun lottery.
“I really don’t want to live in Marks/Braun” says Max Oberg (ME ‘25, Blacker), one of the students believes that overadmission affected their ability to get a suite. “All I’ve heard from people are how depressing those rooms are and it really breaks up house culture and separates students form the rest of campus”
Juan Luchsinger (ME ‘25, Blacker) says “it also feels unfair that the rooms in Marks and Braun are being used as doubles,” as before Covid, they have been used as singles. “I’ve also seen the living conditions at Marks, and they do not look quite good.
Though some seemed understanding of the predicament housing has been placed in, due to over admittance. “I’m not sure how to feel about the situation,” says Luchsinger . “a large part of it is that they needed more space for the incoming class… I would prefer they get bechtel/ housing over me.”
However, some even unluckier students did not get a room in Marks or Braun. Fisher is one of them. “It’s very difficult, as someone who’s never found housing before, and hasn’t been given any instructions or advice from Caltech on how to do that.” she says. “It’s taking a lot of my time”.
Her, and others in her situation have reached out to the housing office, though it offered no help. Lily DeBell (Bio ‘24, Unaffiliated) says “Other than offering room picks into Marks, for which my lottery number would have been too low anyway, I have received zero help from the housing office.”
When Fisher met with housing, they told her that their policy was they “don’t help anyone in any way with off campus housing”. Housing said to Fisher, “We are the Caltech housing office, not the off campus housing office” to which she “found very upsetting”.
All of administration has offered no help whatsoever. “I met with Joe Bennethum, I met with Felicia Hunt, I met with Dean Nye, I met with Kevin Gilmartin,” Fisher says. “what are you going to do to help me?” She asked. “ and they said nothing.”
The final round for Marks/ Braun picks are on Monday, May 15 and Tuesday, May 16. Also, it is unlikely that housing will do anything more to help these displaced students, based on its current lack of action.
DeBell pointed out how backward and unfair the situation is, “I’m surprised and disappointed that Caltech has made this policy in one of the tightest rental markets in the country. When I enrolled at Caltech, living on campus all four years was not only guaranteed but required.”
Fisher also mentioned how Caltech’s actions contradicts the Honor Code, “The way that the lottery rules are changed… I felt that it unfairly disadvantages some students… which I feel is not in the spirit of the honor code and the entire ethos of Caltech.”